Once everybody was done the post-race breakdown meeting, the drivers and crew members split up to their usual spots for a Monday afternoon. Joey was set to head back to his office, though instead made the short walk down to his teammate’s. He knocked on the door, causing Brad to glance up.
“You can always just let yourself in,” Brad says as he motions for Joey to walk in the room.
“I didn’t want to interrupt you if you were busy,” Joey replies as he enters, closing the door behind him. “Besides, I had to make sure Melody wasn’t here.” Brad then glances back up from his desk, surprised by the comment.
“I thought we were cool about that…” Joey takes a deep breath as he nears closer to the desk.
“We are. I mean, I’m fine. It’s just….” Joey takes another deep breath, trying to find the right words. “It freaked me out a little, okay? I was caught off-guard by that.” Brad could only begin to understand as he knew it was always a surprise when people learned more details of their lives.
“I get that reaction from anybody who sees something a little strange it seems.” Joey had sat nervously, though perked up at the comment. He was worried he had offended his teammate. “Look, I get that it’s not what you’d call normal. It’s something you just see in horror movies, right? It’s a reasonable reaction. You don’t have to dart around the topic with me, Joey. Heck, Juliette expressed concerns about the next time you come over.” Joey felt his stomach flip at that comment.
“Concerns?” Brad shakes his head yes, keeping his eyes focused on his teammate. He wanted to try and make him as comfortable as he could.
“We’d understand if you were nervous around her, didn’t want to hold her, keep your distance. I wouldn’t blame you one bit.” Joey knew that wasn’t quite what he was thinking by concerns.
“What about her behavior? Will she do that again?” Brad couldn’t be 100% certain, but had a perspective gained after discussion with Edward about the meetings he went through with humans, and raising his daughter.
“As long as there’s no blood that she can see or taste, then you’re safe. That’s why she attacked you – she tasted your blood, liked the taste and was set for more. Look at it this way – you know that you have great blood.” Joey knew Brad was trying to be light-hearted, but it just didn’t feel right in this moment.
“Geez thanks Brad. Next time I’m not sure how I’m doing, I’ll just let your daughter check me out.” Brad took his turn with a slight chuckle.
“Hey, vampires only go after good, clean human blood. They won’t touch any with a trace of sickness.” Joey was surprised by the detail, but figured he couldn’t blame them as it was about protecting themselves. “Listen, if you go see her today or tomorrow or anyday, you’ll be fine. You can also hold her without a problem. Just know that if there’s any blood at all from yourself, make sure to keep your distance.” Joey then felt confused by those words, as he noticed Juliette’s reaction.
“Juliette didn’t do anything at the sight of my blood….” Brad sits back in his chair, having grown used to explaining things to people.
“Juliette is a very trained vampire. She doesn’t go for human blood at one bit – actually doesn’t like the taste, strangely. She is only able to enjoy certain animal bloods by what she tells me. But she’s also trained herself to not attach to human blood, stay far off it – same with Edward and the Cullens. With Melody, that’ll come with time as she gets older.” Joey felt his stomach twist and turn as he tried to make sense of everything.
“So she’ll be willing to attack me if she sees blood for a long time?” Brad shrugs his shoulders, having listened to Edward’s explanation.
“For the first two years of her life, we can’t control her instincts at all. She turns into werewolf and howls at the sight of the full moon and around those days, which is this week. She instinctly goes after human blood because that’s what vampires love. As she enters year three of her life, all those go away and disappear under the surface as she continues to grow.” Brad then takes a deep breath, remembering the details. “Our beings grow smarter quicker than a human so by year five and six, we can understand things like control and ability. At that point is when training begins to withstand full moons, how to change on instant like I can, and also how to deal with blood thirst.”
“So for the first two years of her life, you need to keep her guarded because of that?” Brad shakes his head yes.
“That’s why Juliette won’t be there this weekend as we have no babysitter and its full moon week.” Joey finally felt like he was getting an understanding for everything. “Any questions you ever have, don’t hesitate to ask me. I’ll give you the answers that I know.”
“What about your wedding? I heard you’re keeping the guest list real low. Do I want to know what’s up there?” Brad shakes his head no, as he wasn’t quite sure yet either. “That bad?”
“It’s going to have tradition from both sid-”
“You guys are anything but the traditional couple, though.” Brad chuckles, remembering that comment from his siblings and Yolanda.
“We want to honor tradition, though, because it’s who we are. We haven’t quite decided what to include and what to do yet – hence why I can’t say much yet. But, when I do know, I will let you know. Oh, and you’re invited along with Brittany, Paul, Dale and Amy since all of you know.” Joey was about to simply agree, thought felt puzzled.
“Did Juliette somehow tell Dale when she was working for him?” Brad shakes his head no. “Then how does he know?” Brad could only wonder about how to tell that story from Talladega last season. He had to laugh at the teasing jokes from Dale, too.
“Let’s just say that Jason used him as a pawn to get mine and Juliette’s attention.” Joey’s jaw then drops as he thinks back to a year ago.
“So you killed him?” Brad then looks away. “Holy shit…”
“I had no choice. He was either going to hurt Dale, hurt me and go after Juliette and probably kill her. I had to do what was necessary for survival based on what he was doing.” Joey felt himself in total disbelief now, worse than when he entered the office. “I hated every minute of it and wished that we could’ve handled things differently. But that night, it was either him or me or Dale.”
“I get that. I know that’s not you. I know that it’s strange. It’s just….I can’t picture that.” Brad then sits up in the chair.
“Then don’t and forget you ever asked. Besides, that past with Jason is in the rearview and forgot about. As Juliette said, we’re not mentioning that ever again.” Joey just quietly shakes his head yes, letting it continue to soak in.